In this Jan. 18, 2014 photo, an endangered female orca leaps from the water while breaching in Puget Sound west of Seattle, Wash. For years, scientists have identified dams, pollution and vessel noise as causes of the troubling decline of the Pacific Northwest’s resident killer whales. Now, they may have found a new and more surprising culprit: pink salmon. Salmon researchers perusing data on the website of the Center for Whale Research noticed a startling trend: that for the past two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years. In a newly published paper, they speculate that the pattern is related to pink salmon, which return to the waters between Washington state and Canada in enormous numbers every other year. (Elaine Thompson | Associated Press File)

In this Jan. 18, 2014 photo, an endangered female orca leaps from the water while breaching in Puget Sound west of Seattle, Wash. For years, scientists have identified dams, pollution and vessel noise as causes of the troubling decline of the Pacific Northwest’s resident killer whales. Now, they may have found a new and more surprising culprit: pink salmon. Salmon researchers perusing data on the website of the Center for Whale Research noticed a startling trend: that for the past two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years. In a newly published paper, they speculate that the pattern is related to pink salmon, which return to the waters between Washington state and Canada in enormous numbers every other year. (Elaine Thompson | Associated Press File)

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